Improving Public Access to Water
One of the most significant elements of this redevelopment project is that it will provide people with numerous new waterfront access opportunities through the creation of approximately 33 acres of new upland parks and trails and 6 acres of restored public beach. These signature parks and trails will link downtown Bellingham and adjacent neighborhoods to the waterfront and will feature outstanding areas to walk, play and experience the waterfront. Parks and open spaces within the Waterfront District will be interconnected by a network of pedestrian and bicycle trails, with connections to the Coast Millennium Trail system and other local parks and trail systems.
Approximately 18% of the Waterfront District land area is proposed for use as public park, trails and habitat, equaling approximately 33 acres of new upland parks, plus 4 acres of existing public land located east of the railroad tracks along the South Bay Trail, State Street and Boulevard Street. In addition, 6 acres of public beaches will be restored for habitat and public use. The Waterfront District will serve as an important linkage in developing a regional system of waterfront parks and trails. The majority of the shoreline within the Waterfront District will be dedicated for public access and improved for public recreation, water access and habitat. This will benefit the entire community as well as the future businesses and residential development located within the Waterfront District. The precise design and layout of the parks, trails and habitat within each development area will be determined through future planning processes integrated with the design of future building footprints and streets. The Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan suggests the general location, size and key elements of various park developments, but recognizes that community discussion under the direction of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department will further guide the details of the parks, open spaces and trails in the Waterfront District. Similar to the transportation system, the parks, open space and trails will be phased as the site develops. Each phase of development will be accompanied by the creation of new public recreation, open space and habitat areas.